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I am surprised that so many people are now critical of Kingsolver's supposed elitism. She has written a fascinating well-written book that raises the important moral issues surrounding food and attempts to answer them from personal experience and effort. It's part of an incomplete roadmap that is still being drawn. As the Pat Humphries' song "Swimming to The Other Side" puts it, "... we are swimming in the stream together, some in power and some in pain..."

Everything in US culture is designed to be easier and cheaper if we don't question mass culture and its standard operating procedures. Kingsolver and her family took a vow to restrict their diet for one year by, as she puts it, giving up "bananas", food imported at great cost in energy and pollution. She did not take a vow of poverty, as many Catholic Worker activists do.

The details of her solution to the problem of living up to her vow to eat locally are interesting, but not central; there are many ways to fulfill such a vow. She is not accusing people who follow a different sustainable-food path. She did make a sacrifice in leaving the Sonora desert she loved and moving to a Virginia farm that she happened to have access to, but this was not cheating: Virginia is NOT the garden of Eden, and Tucson is not Hell, and she could afford the move. She is in the position of a pilgrim who keeps a journal of her travels and shares it with others when the journey is done. Most pilgrims do not give up their social class, give away all their wealth, etc. They take limited vows (to walk instead of riding, to pray a certain number of times a day, to spend the nights at spartan pilgrim hostels).

As a vegetarian and a relatively impoverished New Englander, I would have made different choices, and I would have had to surmount different obstacles in keeping a local-eating vow. I don't hold that against Kingsolver any more than I resent H.D. Thoreau's relying on his mother's cooking and laundry services while living at Walden.